Student Stories: Miguel Marino

Student Stories: Miguel Marino


Major: Associate in Arts

Many factors influenced Miguel Marino’s decision to attend College of DuPage.

It was a combination of having a safety net while he pursued other goals along with family and societal pressure. In fact, he dropped out after his first semester and didn’t return until he found the right motivation to pursue a degree.

Once he did, Marino took full advantage of what COD offered.

“I got involved because I wanted to meet new people and improve my leadership skills,” he said. “I participated in many clubs, but the Latino Ethnic Awareness Association (LEAA) and the Student Leadership Council were the most influential. To my surprise, getting involved not only provided me with social interaction but also helped me discover a passion for communication, leadership and higher education. Opening myself to new experiences helped me realize that higher education is where my heart and mind can work together. I would like to thank Student Life for doing a great job with student development and retention.”

Although he earned his Associate in Arts degree, Marino didn’t leave College of DuPage. He found work at the College while continuing his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Management in Higher Education Administration from Robert Morris.

“As an employee of COD, I was able to keep up with what was happening around the institution,” he said. “I was part of committees and tasks forces and I supported the mission of the Diversity and Inclusion office and the Latino Outreach Center. I was also a member of the Accreditation Task Force.”

Marino moved to the College of Lake County and worked as a recruitment specialist. He then was a resident assistant/teacher assistant in a summer college preparation program at Northwestern University. He just finished his first year in ENLACE, a higher education leadership program at Northeastern Illinois University, where he also works as a graduate assistant. 

“The program focuses on preparing leadership that will respond to the educational needs of a diverse student population and create change,” he said. “Colleges and universities are essential for the bettering of our communities. Some of the main duties of higher education institutions are to teach people how to think for themselves and help them unleash their potential. I want to keep contributing to the mission of empowering people since they will be part of the moving force that shapes our communities. If we create the right environment and provide people with the right tools, I have faith they can create a more positive, balanced and inclusive world.”

For people considering College of DuPage, Marino has plenty of advice.

“For traditional-age students, if you do not have an idea what you are doing with your life, give COD a chance and open yourself to new experiences,” he said. “You need to get out of your comfort zone to find what intrigues you and moves you at your core. If you know what you want to do, then come to COD, get a great education, take advantage of all the opportunities offered and save money. College is expensive, so be smart about your investment. 

“For non-traditional and adult students, it is never too late to change careers, get a college education or learn a new skill. Self-improvement has no age. I have always admired non-traditional students because they face many factors that can get in the way of their education but still keep fighting to achieve their goals. Witnessing that they are not afraid of starting again or ‘starting late’ is inspirational.

“Ultimately, I would say to follow what you love. And do not worry if you have not found it yet. What you are truly passionate about is out there waiting for you. You just have to meet it half way. Once you find what you love, do not settle or play it safe. Regret is more painful than failure.”

For Marino, College of DuPage gave him the tools and opportunities to build his confidence.  

“I had great mentors who believed in me and inspired me to aim high, professors who challenged me and expanded my mind, and extracurricular activities that empowered me and helped me figured out my strengths and passions,” he said. “I am forever grateful for all the people who influenced me during my time at COD.”

More about the Associate in Arts degree